Goodbye 2016! As I dawn on my fourth year as editor of The Deli Magazine San Francisco in 2017, I want to thank all of the bands, managers, publicists and readers for sticking with us through the ups and the downs. My heart and prayers go out to the families and friends of the victims of Ghost Ship and to all of the artists and creatives who have been displaced due to the rising costs of housing throughout the Bay Area. Stay Strong. The Deli is with you!
Local music journalist, Rachel Milani has done an amazing job of compiling the 10 Best Bay Area Music Videos! I thank her and hope you dig these amazing music videos!
Thao & the Get Down Stay Down - “Astonished Man”
How Thao Nguyen isn’t selling out shows at Madison Square Garden yet is honestly perplexing, especially after the release of this year’s A Man Alive which is the best album yet from Ngyuen and her band The Get Down Stay Down. In their video “Astonished Man” we get this edgy, indie pop band in all their glory. The song starts with the same stark punchiness from the drums (or drum machine) that leads many of the band’s best tracks. Straightforward guitar riffs quickly steal the scene, commanding attention with confidence and not to mention the tease of those sexy bass synthesizers throughout the track. The story that unfolds begs the question, is it just a little harmless knife play or are we seeing our protagonist experiencing the very real pain of estrangement from love?
LSD and the Search for God - “(I Don’t Think That We Should) Take It Slow”
Always gorgeous, eternally dreamy, it is so good to have LSD and the Search for God back on the scene. Since the video for “(I Don’t Think That We Should) Take It Slow” was released at the beginning of this year, the album it comes from Heaven Is A Place has been touted by more than one best of the year lists for shoegaze and dream pop. Deservedly so, what more do you want from a band who brought back both psych and shoegaze? Sure, the instagram aesthetic has grown stale in many ways but not here, not with this band. The band kicks around a hazy San Francisco haloed in rainbow light, our beloved city is almost obscured by all the filters and lens flare but remains recognizable to any self-respecting local.
Con Brio - “Free & Brave”
Filmed throughout West Oakland, Con Brio’s video for their single “Free & Brave” takes one of the most uplifting stances toward the current socioeconomic and political strife rampant not only in our metropolitan here in the Bay but the United States at large. The band manages to make a colorful scene out of the symbolic black and white aesthetic of the video. Groovy frontman Ziek McCarter never drops the funky, psychedelic soul this band is known for while paying respect to such notable historical figures as MLK and Trayvon Martin. What Con Brio has created here is a new national anthem aimed at restoring faith in our ability to overcome a time fraught with racial violence and divisions. This is the new US of A and we couldn’t ask for a better messenger.
Waterstrider - “Nowhere Now (Acoustic)”
Sure, it’s the simplest on this list in terms of production or storyline but Waterstrider, and particularly frontman Nate Salman who is the sole player in this acoustic version of their song “Nowhere Now”, belong on any list of the Bay’s best music. Salman’s signature falsetto is the foundation for much of Waterstrider’s music, though under normal circumstances their killer percussion section cannot be ignored. But to have that voice here in all its stripped down glory is a beautiful addition to their oeuvre. We’ve all wondered who we are and where we’re going. “Nowhere Now” tackles those overwhelming questions with unsurpassed grace.
Hot Flash Heat Wave - “Bye Bye Baby”
In the video for “Bye Bye Baby”, Hot Flash Heat Wave reboots that lo-fi VHS-thetic that has remained appealing for at least a few years now. The videotape is the bondage in the disappointed story these guys tell about a potential relationship that never gets off the ground. Sexy and silly at the same time, we get to see the babe in question writhing in videotape as the guy who wants her wistfully drools over found footage realizing that he will never have her. It’s like watching a bootleg 90s teen movie, endearing and painful at the same time in an awkward quest for sexual gratification.
Sugar Candy Mountain - “Windows”
The desert has certainly had an influence on Sugar Candy Mountain who formed in Oakland only to travel down south for an ongoing stint in Joshua Tree this year. The switch in scenery has actually seemed to make them more themselves than ever. That is, a sun-soaked psychedelic journey that transcends the senses while graciously never getting too heady. Since then, the band dropped 666, an album less foreboding than the name suggests, and this summer put out the video for single “Windows”. It could be the soundtrack to one of Tarantino’s alt. Western masterpieces with a creeping, twangy opening that eases into its pop backbone as the video explores a dreamlike desert landscape.
Rituals of Mine - “Ride or Die”
More Oakland-love, this time coming from Rituals of Mine FKA Sister Crayon in their video for “Ride or Die, their single from album Devoted. To start, the exquisite videography alone beautifully unveils the powerful talent of this Sacramento-bred duo. Melancholic and evocative, the voyeuristic scenes show culture as synonymous with joy. At the same time the lyrics convey so well the opposite feeling, the longing for someone to love and be loved by. The chorus rises powerfully from a down-tempo well of emotion spread across 3 ½ minutes of layered vocals and icy, minimalistic hip-hop beats.
TV Heads - “Chin Up”
TV Heads is a brand new band and though they are currently based in LA, frontwoman Angelica Tavella has enough roots in the Bay Area that they cannot fully shed that association, and why would they want to? Her own record label OIM signed the band and they have since released the video for their single “Chin Up” from debut EP Total Fucker. A punk-wave attitude dipped in lush 90s harmonies, guitar, and synths comprise the core of the TV Heads’ approach. Half party and half baptism, the video for “Chin Up” depicts a cry for salvation while the band moves through a modern world hell bent on getting the better of them.
Spooky Mansion and Tino Drima - “A Space God Appears”
More short film than pure music video, we got a two for one deal when Spooky Mansion and Tino Drima paired up to make “A Space God Appears”. References abound in the 10 minute flick about a goofy battle in outer space, not to mention the apropos timing with the new Star Wars movie, while we see the dudes duke it out to a soundtrack of crooning psychedelic doo-wop. This video is cool because it is a great example of the spirit of creative playfulness that is born of a bunch of musicians just trying to do what they love. It’s young but it is also undeniably fun and at the end of a year that has been heartbreaking in many ways maybe that is enough to make it great.
Perhapsy - “All My Soul Swallowed”
Simply the showcasing the beauty of the greater Bay Area’s gorgeous natural landscape, we see Derek Barber of Perhapsy navigating a surreal and perhaps purely imaginary world in his video for “All My Soul Swallowed” from his sophomore album Me Tie Dough-ty Walker. Is it a weird acid trip or a metaphor for some hidden part of the mind of this rising local talent? We see our main man followed through the woods by a mysterious (half of a) woman and just generally being his dreamy, indie pop self while playing a rad custom guitar. Shout out to the vintage Nintendo controller that seems to keep trying to start a fire in the woods.